Bugaboo Conditions, Snowpatch-Bugabool Col Alternatives


Original Post
Brian Braunstein · · Schaffhausen, Switzerland · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 85

Does anyone have any good tips for getting conditions in the Bugaboos?  I'm concerned about Snowpatch-Bugaboo Col rockfall after all this warm weather.  I'm trying to figure out more information on the alternative was over to the Howser Towers, for example, is it possible to get over the ridge by the Southwest side of Pigeon?

Brian Braunstein · · Schaffhausen, Switzerland · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 85

Hmm, just found https://www.mountainconditions.com/reports/bugaboos-conditions-0 but it's been over a week of hot weather since then...

Eric Stern · · Boulder, CO/ Tacoma Washington · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 45

I believe you can go clockwise around Snowpatch or the far better but more longer option is climb Bugaboo spire and descend the Kain route which lands you right on top of the col

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 478
Eric Stern wrote:

I believe you can go clockwise around Snowpatch or the far better but more longer option is climb Bugaboo spire and descend the Kain route which lands you right on top of the col

If someone is heading over to Howser Tower the last thing they want to do is climb the NE ridge first. Save your energy and skin for beckey chouinard, you'll need it.

You can go around snowpatch on the glacier, I haven't done it so I'm not sure on the condition of the glacier. Downside over the S-B col is that you'll likely need real footwear, more weight in the pack on route. S-B to east creek is totally reasonable in approach shoes and micro spikes

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70
Nick Drake wrote:

If someone is heading over to Howser Tower the last thing they want to do is climb the NE ridge first. Save your energy and skin for beckey chouinard, you'll need it.

You can go around snowpatch on the glacier, I haven't done it so I'm not sure on the condition of the glacier. Downside over the S-B col is that you'll likely need real footwear, more weight in the pack on route. S-B to east creek is totally reasonable in approach shoes and micro spikes

I'm no badass and I was standing at the bottom of the Kain route at 11am the day we did the NE Ridge on Bugaboo Spire. You'd be way slower with a big ass pack with bivy gear, but depending on the fitness level of your party going over Bugaboo spire might be not a super terrible idea.

That said, you'd still have to come down the B-S col, which is super sketchy if it's out so it doesn't really solve your problem.

Full disclosure: my partner and I bailed on going out to the Howsers in 2015 because the BS col was out and we didn't want to do the glacier in approach shoes. Still haven't been back.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 478

Problem with the NE ridge is that it's incredibly popular and parties who feel it's near limit start crazy early. We left camp at 5:30 and there were headlamps on the approach scramble already. We caught all of those parties at the base of the route and were held up, unable to simul the chimney pitches.

the ridge traverse and rap route finding onto the kain take up more time than you might expect also.

Bivy at pigeon col is ok now. So is east creek (gear hangers for the snafflehounds). You could just slog gear out up the glacier and go light on route. That's probably a more reasonable approach, it's a very large day from applebee even via S-B. 

Dont underestimate rest for beckey chounaird. I did last month, added some gear to bail anchors low on the route. 

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 70
Nick Drake wrote:

Problem with the NE ridge is that it's incredibly popular and parties who feel it's near limit start crazy early. We left camp at 5:30 and there were headlamps on the approach scramble already. We caught all of those parties at the base of the route and were held up, unable to simul the chimney pitches.

Yeah that's true -- we were the first people on the route at dawn.

I also almost certainly wouldn't go over Bugaboo Spire to get to the Howsers, just thinking out loud.

OP: If you can't get to the Howsers, I thought Sunshine Crack was one of the best routes I've ever done and the approach is way easier. Might be a good alternative.

ddriver · · SLC · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 410
Brian Braunstein wrote:

Hmm, just found https://www.mountainconditions.com/reports/bugaboos-conditions-0 but it's been over a week of hot weather since then...

From your linked report:

"The BS Col still felt as safe as it gets these days, with snow coverage for all but the last few gravelly meters. Rockfall was minor and mostly climber generated. There are a couple of hints of crevasses now, and although the bergschrund is starting to smirk at the edges, it’s as yet without any human-shaped holes in the center. Currently, there is a somewhat supportive track in with many folks still feeling comfortable climbing down rather than rappelling. Several parties did take long unplanned glissades in the rotting afternoon snow while we were there, however, and although we saw more tanned gamblers in hi-tops and tank tops than a downtown Vegas casino, we were still happy to have full boots and crampons underfoot.  

Overall, the best conditions I’ve experienced in the Bugs in ages."

I was last there three seasons ago but found no problems with the col conditions then either.  Seems unlikely you would have to avoid it. I've descended the col a number of times over the years and have never used the rappels, though they are a relatively new feature. 

Alex Jacques · · Burlington, CT · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 255

All this talk about climbing NE ridge and descending Kain just to get to the top of B-S Col as an approach to the Howser's is quite comical.

The col is doing just fine as of a week ago, the line is pretty stepped out but crampons and an axe are still a good idea. There is always a danger of rock fall from climbers above but if you keep attentive you will be fine. 

Michael T. · · Mill Creek, WA · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 50

Don't let the old climber at the Kain hut Sandbag you, the Bugaboo glacier approach is not as straight forward as he might tell you. We had to jump across the moat and climb over this little bulge just to get over the bergschrund. It Aided pretty easily and then was loose low 5th from there, I was lazy and wanted to leave my boots on but it would probably go free in the mid 10's. Maybe there is some magical snow bridge that we missed but I doubt it. As of August 7th the top of the Col was pretty effed up, it all felt like one big jenga rock pile.

Spitfire · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

To Michael:

Do you need a second tool to climb over a bergshrund on B-S col approach?

B L · · Montréal, Québec · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 280

I was there two days ago and the col is still in condition. The passage over the bergschund is safe

Beean · · Canmore, AB · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 0

Bugs are closed due to fires. Don't get some. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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